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Canotila
10-07-2010, 06:03 AM
A character needs to destroy a longbow, quietly and fast. Would putting horizontal gouges across the arms with a knife weaken it enough to make it useless?

Lhun
10-07-2010, 06:07 AM
Damage it, but you'd need to whittle for quite a while to destroy it.
How quiet? If it doesn't have to be absolutely silent, just break it.

thothguard51
10-07-2010, 06:09 AM
If deep enough it will weaken the bow when drawn to full arch, but perhaps not on the first pull.

A better way might be to just cut the string... Not everyone carries a spare g-string... (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Canotila
10-07-2010, 06:15 AM
It needs to be as silent as possible. He's just garotted a sentry, and wants to destroy the sentry's bow before moving on (they're incredibly precious to the enemy).

It doesn't have to be totally destroyed on the spot. As long as it will break with a little use, or something along those lines that would be perfect.

thothguard51
10-07-2010, 07:30 AM
Cutting the string, (but not all the way through if you want the act to remain unknown), would be easier than cutting deep notches into the bow.

Amadan
10-07-2010, 07:37 AM
Longbows are thick, strong pieces of wood (they have to be, to have the kind of draw they do). So a few slashes with a knife won't do much except put nicks in them.

Destroying the string is easier of course, but strings are more easily replaced than bows.

Sorry, your options are (1) break the bow (noisy) or (2) spend a lot of time whittling (slow).

Canotila
10-07-2010, 10:21 AM
That's good stuff to know. Thanks all for helping me not look like an idiot.

He might have a hatchet with him. Wouldn't cutting the string make a noise anyway? He wants to make it permanently unusable.

TheIT
10-07-2010, 10:46 AM
Is there a water barrel or stream nearby? Cut the string on the bow and pitch the bow into the water. If the wood gets waterlogged, I think the bow will be unusable.

I asked something similar a while back about how to sabotage arrows:

"Archery Competitions"
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=69327

Someone mentioned a real life incident where a competition bow was sabotaged with water.

Regarding cutting the string - I'd think it would make a twanging sound which shouldn't be too loud. Maybe put the string against the ground in hopes that dirt will muffle the sound when it's cut.

Canotila
10-07-2010, 11:35 AM
Oh, thanks for that link. I could stick a stream nearby. Some of them have bone bows, and those would get pretty wrecked up by water too. I didn't realize it was so damaging to wooden ones.

Lhun
10-07-2010, 11:37 AM
Generally, you'd want to unstring the bow before cutting the string. Mostly to prevent getting whacked by the flexing bow.
Water works, but with waxed wood can take a long time, a longbow isn't nearly as sensitive to this as a composite bow.
Best thing to do with a knife would be to cut a notch across the front of one of the arms. I'd guess if you can cut a bout a third as deep as the thickness of the wood (maybe a little less, the more the better) it'd break when drawn.
You could get a tough piece of wood and try how long that takes.
But would simply breaking it really be too loud? I don't think breaking wood is that audible compared to some guy flailing around while being strangled.

Cyia
10-07-2010, 02:35 PM
Dry fire it a few times.

According to the man who made the longbows at the Ren Fest I worked in high school, as few as 3-5 empty shots can weaken a bow enough to break it.

whacko
10-07-2010, 02:44 PM
Hi Canotila,

If bows are incredibly precious, why doesn't your character work off the waste not want not principal, and take the bow himself?

Failing that, he could set fire to it.

Regards

Lhun
10-07-2010, 04:18 PM
Dry fire it a few times.

According to the man who made the longbows at the Ren Fest I worked in high school, as few as 3-5 empty shots can weaken a bow enough to break it.Shoot, you shoot a bow, you don't fire it.
Releasing a bow empty can destroy it, but it's not certain. It's also a good way to get whacked in the head by flying pieces of wood if the bow does break.

TheIT
10-07-2010, 09:36 PM
Generally, you'd want to unstring the bow before cutting the string. Mostly to prevent getting whacked by the flexing bow.
Water works, but with waxed wood can take a long time, a longbow isn't nearly as sensitive to this as a composite bow.
Best thing to do with a knife would be to cut a notch across the front of one of the arms. I'd guess if you can cut a bout a third as deep as the thickness of the wood (maybe a little less, the more the better) it'd break when drawn.
You could get a tough piece of wood and try how long that takes.
But would simply breaking it really be too loud? I don't think breaking wood is that audible compared to some guy flailing around while being strangled.

Perhaps whittling away until there's a weak spot? Also, with waxed wood, how deeply does the wax penetrate? Use the knife to score the wood or shave away some of the surface, then toss the bow into the water. Now the water has a channel to get to the interior.

veinglory
10-07-2010, 09:54 PM
I think that if you wrapped cloth around it and broke rather than suddenly snapped it, it wouldn't make a lot of sound.

Cyia
10-07-2010, 10:02 PM
Another thought-

If the bow is notched (at the tips where the string is tied), those points are much thinner than the midsection. Lay the bow across a rock to brace it and have your guy stomp the tip where the string is attached; the wood should snap at the weak point.

Tiger
10-07-2010, 10:13 PM
Another thought-

If the bow is notched (at the tips where the string is tied), those points are much thinner than the midsection. Lay the bow across a rock to brace it and have your guy stomp the tip where the string is attached; the wood should snap at the weak point.

That would be my suggestion... Bow should even be thin enough a foot or so from the tip to break across one's knee.

Lhun
10-07-2010, 10:19 PM
Perhaps whittling away until there's a weak spot? Also, with waxed wood, how deeply does the wax penetrate? Use the knife to score the wood or shave away some of the surface, then toss the bow into the water. Now the water has a channel to get to the interior.Depends completely on the bow, or rather how (well) it was made. But even if it's just wax coated, it's not like wood dissolves in water. Longbows are typically made from a single piece of wood, and are not nearly as susceptible to water damage as composite bows, which were held together by water soluble glue.

If the bow is notched (at the tips where the string is tied), those points are much thinner than the midsection. Lay the bow across a rock to brace it and have your guy stomp the tip where the string is attached; the wood should snap at the weak point.That works, but it's not really hard to break a bow in the first place, no good reason to just go after the tip. You can just over-bend it when stringing it, or break it like a sword.
Bows need to be drawable with a single arm, so breaking them is just a question of holding them so you can bend them to the point of breaking before you're at the end of your reach.

Addendum:
Breaking like sword is easy, put tip against ground, hold other tip in hand, and press with foot down the middle until it breaks.
Stringing is done by hooking the bow behind your right knee, in front of the left foot, and holding the upper arm (of the bow) in your right elbow. Then you bend it forward to string it. It's done that way to take care that both arms (again, of the bow) are under equal tension. If you're not careful when stringing a bow you could accidentally bend just one half of it, which is quite likely to break it. So, if you want to break the bow, just keep bending it until you hear the crack.
Addendum 2:
No matter what you do, the bow will not break in the middle, because Longbow or Recurve, the handle is the thickest part and not actually designed to bend. The place where it will break is the middle of the flexing parts, i.e. the arms.

PeterL
10-07-2010, 11:41 PM
You might have the destroyer cut the end of the ow where the string loops over. It is thinner, so a small cut would be more effective, and a single good slash might be deep enough to have it break fairly quickly.

Canotila
10-08-2010, 07:08 AM
He can't fire it or probably even unstring it himself. The enemies they are fighting are 8-9 foot tall sasquatch-esque people, which is what makes the bows precious. They're really hard to make at that size (along with some religious beliefs surrounding the gear).

Breaking a tip off might work. If I give him a hatchet, he could probably smack the end off or weaken it enough in one or two blows.

They're in the forest. He's approaching a camp of about thirty, and the enemies are not very alert. They don't think anybody will try and attack, so he got lucky and the sentry was sitting down and dozing off. Everybody else is probably sleeping, but sound carries in the woods so he wants to be careful about noise.

Lhun
10-08-2010, 12:05 PM
If it's in the woods, why not just hide it? Are they going to search every inch of ground in a wide radius on the off chance that a missing bow wasn't stolen?

Canotila
10-09-2010, 03:48 AM
You know, that could definitely work. Usually I just let the characters tell me what they want to do, and he wanted to destroy it on the spot. He could probably hide it instead. Or at least, take it far enough away to destroy that they won't hear it breaking after he finishes his mission. Thank you!

Lhun
10-09-2010, 09:31 AM
I've lost arrows on soccer fields. ;) When an arrow goes wide, the trajectory is so flat that it will often completely bury under the grass. It's just a couple of centimetres down, buried flat below the grass, but even if you saw it land, it's almost impossible to find the darn things again if the feathers don't stick out.
A bow is bigger, but if you have typical forest terrain to lost it in instead of just flat grass, it shouldn't be hard.